by James Meadows
1. “Most Americans say they want guidance from God or the Bible, but few believe in moral absolutes, according to a new survey by the Gallup Organization” (Religious News Services).
a. 70 percent agreed with this statement: “There are few moral absolutes; what is right or wrong usually varies from situation to situation.”
b. 70 percent said they believe it is important to “do what God or Scripture says when choosing between right and wrong, but 63 percent of the group reject the concept of moral absolutes.”
2. One of the most tragic episodes of the Old Testament involves the inexcusable disobedience of King Saul (1 Sam. 15:1-23).
a. Saul’s rebellion was as the sin of witchcraft.
b. Saul’s sin of disobedience was the direct result of his lack of respect for authority and rebellion against authority.
3. It is of paramount importance that men be brought to regard the Bible as the sole standard of authority in religion — many do not.
a. The Catholic Church openly admits that she does not think the Scriptures are sufficient. “We must therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of faith because they cannot, at any time be within the reach of every inquiry; because they are not of themselves clear and intelligible even in matters of highest importance, and because they do not contain all the truths necessary for salvation” (James C. Gibbons, Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 89-90).
b. “Thou fool, that shall say a Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible” (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 29:36; Utah Edition).
4. “I have been convinced for a long time that the fundamental error of the religious world today is the lack of respect for the Word of God. The need of divine authority for what is done in the realm of religion is no longer recognized” (Foy E. Wallace, Bulwarks of Faith, Vol. 2, p. 229).
5. Lack of respect for God’s Word, among both old and young, is producing a whole host of problems today.
6. In this article I propose to study:
a. What is the meaning of authority?
b. What do we believe about the Bible?
c. What are some things that cannot be accepted as standards?
d. The conclusion.
I. What is Authority?
A. It is “the right to command and enforce obedience; the right to act by virtue of office, station, or relation; as the authority of parent over child…” (Webster’s Dictionary).
B. “From the meaning of leave or permission or liberty of doing as one pleases, it passed to that of the ability or strength which one is endued, then to that of the power of authority” (Vine).
C. There are two kinds of authority:
1. Primary: This grows out of the relation of those who have the right to command and those whose duty it is to obey. God is the fountain of all primary authority. (Cf. John 19:10-11; Rom. 13:1).
2. Delegated: This is the right to command and enforce obedience which can be given to another by the party holding primary authority.
a. God delegated authority to His Son (John 5:26-27; John 8:42; John 14:24; Heb. 1:1-2).
b. Christ, through the Holy Spirit, delegated authority to the apostles (Matt. 16:19; Matt. 18:18; John 17:6-9; Acts 10:39-43).
c. The apostles delegated authority to no one, but are still exercising it though their words (Matt. 19:28; Luke 10:16; John 13:20).
II. What do We Believe about the Bible?
A. We believe the purpose of the Bible is the glory of God and the salvation of man through Jesus Christ our Lord.
B. We believe the theme of the Bible is the coming of Christ.
1. The Old Testament rings with the message that Christ is coming.
2. The New Testament rings with the message that Christ has come and that He is coming again.
3. Christ is pictured in every book in the Bible.
a. In Genesis He is the Creator and Seed of Woman.
b. In Exodus He is the Lamb of God for Sinners Slain.
c. In Leviticus He is our High priest.
d. In Numbers He is the Star of Jacob.
e. In Deuteronomy He is the Prophet like Moses.
f. In Joshua He is the Captain of the Lord’s Hosts.
g. In Judges He is the Messenger of Jehovah.
h. In Ruth He is our Kinsman Redeemer.
i. In Samuel He is the Despised and Rejected King.
j. In Kings and Chronicles He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
k. In Ezra and Nehemiah He is the Lord of Heaven and Earth.
l. In Esther He is the Providence of God.
m. In Job He is our Risen and Returning Redeemer.
n. In Psalms He is the Blessed Man, the Son of God, the Coming One, the Reigning One, the Leader of Praise.
o. In Ecclesiastes He is the Forgotten Wise Man.
p. In Song of Solomon He is My Beloved.
q. In Isaiah He is Our Suffering Substitute.
r. In Jeremiah He is the Lord of Righteousness.
s. In Lamentations He is the Man of Sorrows.
t. In Ezekiel He is the Throne Sitter.
u. In Daniel He is the Smiting Stone.
v. In Hosea He is David’s Greater King.
w. In Joel He is the Lord of Bounty.
x. In Amos He is the Rescuer of Israel.
y. In Obadiah He is the Deliverer upon Mount Zion.
z. In Jonah He is the Buried and Risen Savior.
aa. In Micah He is the Everlasting God.
bb. In Nahum He is the Stronghold in the Day of Wrath.
cc. In Habakkuk He is the Anchor of Our Faith.
dd. In Zephaniah He is the Judge and Cleanser.
ee. In Haggai He is the Lord of Presence and Power.
ff. In Zechariah He is the Smitten Shepherd.
gg. In Malachi He is the Son of Righteousness.
hh. In Matthew He is the King of the Jews.
ii. In Mark He is the Servant of Jehovah.
jj. In Luke He is the Perfect Son of Man.
kk. In John He is the Son of God.
ll. In Acts He is the Ascended Lord.
mm. In Romans He is Our Righteousness.
nn. In 1 Corinthians He is the Firstfruits from the Dead.
oo. In 2 Corinthians He is Made Sin for Us.
pp. In Galatians He is the End of the Law.
qq. In Ephesians He is Our Armor.
rr. In Philippians He is the Supplier of Every Need.
ss. In Colossians He is the Pre-eminent One.
tt. In 1 Thessalonians He is Our Returning Lord.
uu. In 2 Thessalonians He is the World’s Merciful Judge.
vv. In 1 Timothy He is the Mediator.
ww. In 2 Timothy He is the Bestower of Crowns.
xx. In Titus He is Our Great God and Savior.
yy. In Philemon He is the Father’s Partner.
zz. In Hebrews He is the Rest of Faith and Fulfiller of Types.
aaa. In James He is The Lord of Sabbath.
bbb. In 1 Peter He is the Theme of Old Testament Prophecy.
ccc. In 2 Peter He is the Long suffering Savior.
ddd. In 1 John He is the Word of Life.
eee. In 2 John He is the Target of Anti-Christ.
fff. In III John He is the Personification of Truth.
ggg. In Jude He is the Believer’s Hope.
hhh. In Revelation He is the Lovable King and Lord.
(Adapted from The Minister’s Monthly, 1959).
C. We believe the Bible is the word of God because it claims to be the Word of God (1 Cor. 2:6-13; Gal. 1:11-12; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).
D. We believe the Bible is God’s final, complete revelation unto man.
1. The Lord promised the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into all truth (John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:13).
2. It is able to furnish us unto all good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
3. It contains all things necessary to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3-4).
4. It has been once delivered (Jude 1:3).
E. We believe that since the Bible is God’s word and that it is His final and complete revelation, then it is our only guide (1 Pet. 4:11).
III. What are Some Things that Cannot be Used as a Standard?
A. The voice of the majority cannot be accepted as a trustworthy guide.
1. There are many today who are advocating that we try to find out what the majority want and then give it to them.
2. It was the minority who obeyed and pleased God at the time of the flood (Gen. 6:22; 1 Pet. 3:20).
3. Multitudes are traveling the broad way (Matt. 7:13-14).
4. There will always be those that will give you what you want (2 Tim. 4:1-4).
B. The conscience is not an infallibly-safe, religious guide.
1. Man must have the approval of his conscience to please God (Rom. 14:22-23), but the fact that one has the approval of his conscience does not necessarily mean that he is right (Acts 23:1).
2. The conscience will approve or disapprove according to its education.
3. One’s conscience can be seared (1 Tim. 4:1-4) and defiled (Titus 1:15). Would such be a safe guide?
C. Feelings are not a safe religious guide.
1. Mormons profess to believe in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith because they prayed about it and God confirmed it by a “burning in their breasts.”
2. The philosophy called “subjectivism” (“a doctrine that individual feeling… is the ultimate criterion of the good and the right,” –Webster) is pleasing to many (even some brethren) today.
3. Furthermore, error when believed to be the truth will produce the same feelings as the truth, if one believes it to be the truth. (Cf. Gen. 37:29-36; Gen. 45:25-28).
D. Walking by what appears to be right cannot be an accepted standard.
1. In the days of the judges “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6; Judg. 21:25).
2. Today, many are asserting that the New Testament epistles are a “collection of love letters, and love letters do not contain rules.” There is no pattern.
3. Many things appear right unto man, but are the ways of death (Prov. 14:12).
4. The Christian walks by faith, not sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
5. God has always given a pattern to His people (Gen. 6:22; Exo. 25:9,40; Heb. 8:5).
6. Jeremiah preached that “the way of man is not in himself,” that a mortal is incapable of directing “his steps” (Jer. 10:23).
7. But human arrogance says, “Man is the measure of all things” (Protagorus, a fifth century B.C. Greek philosopher).
E. Human traditions and commandments of men cannot be regarded as expressions of God’s will.
1. Commandments of men render one’s worship as vain (Matt. 15:9).
2. Commandments of men make void the commandments of God (Mark 7:7-9).
3. Commandments of men turn people from the truth (Titus 1:14).
4. We cannot accept a belief because:
a. We trust the one who is teaching it. But some teachers err; Apollos did (Acts 18:23-28).
b. It is asserted to be true. Typical assertions: Peter was first Pope; there are living “apostles” today; Christians should keep the sabbath day; etc.
c. It is urged with great zeal (consider the zeal of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses).
1. The purpose of this lesson has not been to minimize the importance of a good conscience, to encourage disrespect of parents, etc., but to reduce these matters to their proper dimensions by demonstration that the Bible is our ONLY source of religious authority.
2. When men disrespect the law, they disrespect the persons who gave it. When men disregard God’s word by ignoring it or by following other guides, they disrespect God and reveal a determination to rebel against authority (Ps. 119:161).
3. Proper respect for Bible authority:
a. Begins with the right attitude toward the Bible (Ps. 119).
b. Accepts the Bible as THE standard of authority.
c. Searches for proof of its authority (1 Thess. 5:21; 1 John 4:1).
d. Will lead one to salvation (Rom. 1:16).
4. Our purpose has been to emphasize that the way to go forward is to go back to the Bible for authority.